Tag: CELect



Students in Olin’s CELect course helped create the marketing plan for SafeTrek, a personal mobile safety app that was introduced to the WashU community this fall. Student-led teams in the entrepreneurship consulting course are paired with startups at the downtown accelerator T-Rex and assigned a wide variety of projects.

“The project for SafeTrek is one of many examples where helping a local entrepreneur also helped the community,” said Academic Director for Entrepreneurship Clifford Holekamp.

We asked SafeTrek cofounder Nick Droege about working with CELect teams on the marketing rollout of the app for WashU:

Have the CELect teams provided valuable contributions to your company?

The CELect teams have been extremely valuable in helping us over the past year. From market research to rollout strategies, they’ve made our jobs easier.

The spring 2017 team was diverse mix of law and business students. Did they bring valuable perspectives?

The spring 2017 team was an impressive group. They were able to provide us with valuable insights on campus climate as we geared up to launch at WUSTL’s campus.

[Related: Check out the Spring 2017 CELect team’s take on collaborating with SafeTrek]

What would you tell other startups considering a collaboration with a CELect student team?

Yes. Constantly getting outside perspectives is extremely important as you’re building a company. As founders, it’s easy to hone in on our strategies based on our lenses of how we should execute. Having a group of young, motivated, entrepreneurial spirited students look at what we’re doing and offer their opinions has made us take a step back and evaluate our approaches.


Safetrek recently announced a $3.2 million funding round with St. Louis-based VC firm Cultivation Capital.

The University is continuing to provide SafeTrek FREE OF CHARGE to all students, faculty, staff and Basic Services Contractor employees. To activate your subscription click on the link below and follow the steps: www.safetrekapp.com/affiliate/WUSTL


The Midwest is known as the breadbasket of the United States. Food production was, and continues to be, critical to the growth and development of the United States and nations around the world. As global food scarcity becomes an increasingly urgent issue, governments will grapple with viable methods to increase sustainably the global food supply.

Yield LabYield Lab is an accelerator for agricultural technology startups. The companies in its portfolio receive seed funding and business mentoring in the hopes of harvesting innovations that seek to either increase agricultural yields for farmers or bring efficient solutions in the field. Increasing agricultural yields will grow the global food supply and will have a marked effect in staving off alarming levels of world hunger.

Yield Lab is currently cultivating 15 startups. Each is geared toward assisting farmers to optimize their food production. The Yield Lab recently expanded its operations overseas to Galway, Ireland and, in February 2017, admitted three new startup companies into its accelerator program.

The portfolio is diverse and ranges from a company like Holganix, which produces a 100%-natural bio-nutritional product that promotes strong plant health and sustainable soils while reducing the need for traditional fertilizers and pesticides, to Aptimmune that specializes in the development and application of prophylactic measures against viral diseases of swine.

As part of Washington University’s “CELect” entrepreneur consulting course with Professor Cliff Holekamp, law students Harshil Shukla and Spenser Owens teamed with undergraduate business students Kyle Birns and Josh Moskow to assist local agricultural technology accelerator, Yield Lab, in identifying meaningful ways of collecting and reporting environmental, social, and economic impact metrics to investors.

More information about the Yield Lab can be found at http://www.theyieldlab.com.

Blog post by: Kyle Birns (BSBA’17), Josh Moskow (BSBA’17), Harshil Shukla (JD’18), and Spenser Owens (JD’18).




In 1874, St. Louis was a major hub for industry. Downtown Washington Avenue was thriving with clothing and shoe manufacturers and the city was known as “first in shoes, first in booze, and last in the American league.” Today, the once thriving and populated downtown garment district has transitioned into historic lofts, retail, nightclubs, restaurants, and office space.

As part of the Olin Business School’s CELect practicum, students Emmy Caton, Shaheen Shabrou, Zitong Qiu, and Nancy Zhang are helping the Saint Louis Fashion Fund (SLFF) to revitalize the fashion industry within the community by putting together recommendations and next steps for the fund and SLFF’s fashion incubator.

The Saint Louis Fashion Fund is led by Executive Director Eric Johnson, an industry leader who has successfully launched similar programming and initiatives in New York City.

fashion-fund-incubatorOn October 27th, SLFF will celebrate the organization’s groundbreaking in a state-of-the-art building located at 1533 Washington Avenue (the ArtLofts Building).  As part of the fund’s broader education and outreach on fashion and design, six in-house designers will be welcomed as part of a two-year program to accelerate the development and resurgence of fashion within the larger St. Louis Community.

More information about the Saint Louis Fashion Fund and the incubator’s inaugural class and upcoming events can be found at St. Louis Fashion Incubator.

Blog post by: Emmy Caton (MBA’17), Shaheen Shabrou(PMBA’17), Zitong Qiu (JD’17), and Nancy Zhang (JD’17).




The goal of Arch Grants is to create an entrepreneurial culture and infrastructure to build successful companies in St. Louis. By creating this entrepreneurial culture and bringing companies to St. Louis, Arch Grants has been able to aid in the economic development of downtown St. Louis. In order to continue the economic development of St. Louis, startups brought to St. Louis by Arch Grants need to be sustainable.

In attempting to help build St. Louis and position it as an innovation and entrepreneurship hub for the future, Arch Grants has raised a question about how they could best fund entrepreneurs.

archgrantsLOGOWe, as a team, are helping Arch Grants make an informed decision on this question. We intend to integrate rather scattered data on what St. Louis can offer startups from four different perspectives: financial, human, infrastructural support and customer base. Through this asset mapping, we hope to address community needs and whether it is desirable for Arch Grants to take the industry-focused approach as a community development accelerator.

The team is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with Arch Grants in conjunction with Washington University in St. Louis and hopes to contribute to putting St. Louis on the map as the entrepreneurial heart of the Midwest.

CELect Team: Olivia Jones, JD; Victor Li Wang, BS; Tom Smith, PMBA; Hyeseung Suh, JD

Background: Arch Grants accelerates economic development and community revitalization in St. Louis through entrepreneurship and philanthropy, and most notably by providing $50,000 equity- free grants to early-stage entrepreneurs.

Project: Work with Arch Grants Staff to provide Staff and Board of Directors with the necessary evidence and economic landscaping needed in order to make the decision to move to a more industry-focused competition and program.

Guest blogger: Tom Smith




The CELect consulting program gives WashU MBA, law, and undergraduate students the opportunity to work together on a consulting project for a St. Louis based startup. Our team, consisting of one MBA, one law, and two undergraduate students, was assigned to a financial technology startup, Public Funds Investment Tracking Records (PFITR.) In early September, our team met with the CEO and founder of PFITR, Jim Koetting, to understand what he expects and needs from our team. Jim asked us to create a detailed plan of action for the process of preparing for, realizing, and strategizing financing for his company.

PFITR is a software as a service (SaaS) company designed to give public entities the data they need to make better decisions about investing taxpayers’ money. Jim has spent several years developing the software and only in the past few months has started selling the product to customers. Jim is currently in the financial technology accelerator program, SixThirty, and is now seeking next steps in financing the business.

In approaching the project, our team is assessing the problem from multiple angles, such as analyzing Jim’s financial projections and researching venture capital firms in the Midwest that may be interested in investing in PFITR. We are also pursuing research in SaaS companies and the financial technology industry. Come late November we intend on having a document for Jim outlining the financial technology and SaaS industry, venture capital and funding landscape, financial milestones for PFITR to reach, and where Jim can best apply his proceeds to help his business grow. We also intend on collecting a list of potential venture capital firms Jim can reach out to as well as financial models that can be applied in his business.

Overall, this project has been incredibly rewarding for all team members. As each of us comes for different disciplines and backgrounds we all have much to learn from each other. We are excited to present our project to Jim in November and know that our work will help him make PFITR successful in raising funds for its business.

PFITR CELect team: Brian Lee, Law; Brian Maxwell, BSBA; Hannah Perl, BSBA; and Matt Stranz, MBA.


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